Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mexican Police Raid Battered Women's Shelters in Monterrey, Cancun, and Ciudad Juarez

by Frontera NorteSur

In Mexico, not even shelters for victims of domestic violence are safe from trouble. Recently, refuges for battered women and children have been the object of police raids in Monterrey, Cancun and Ciudad Juarez.

In the tourist resort of Cancun, municipal police searching for a woman attempted to enter the Center for the Integral Attention of Women, a shelter directed by well-known women’s rights advocate and journalist Lydia Cacho, late last month. Center staff, however, successfully blocked the armed men from entering the building.

A shelter in Ciudad Juarez wasn’t so lucky. On June 9, a group of 14 men, several of whom were armed with high-powered weapons, showed up at the “Without Violence” safe house founded by the late activist Esther Chavez Cano.

Led by Roman Garcia, the men claimed to be enforcing a legal order by Juarez Valley Judge Guadalupe Manuel de Santiago Aguayo to find and turn over a minor child, Lesly Itzel Munoz Gonzalez, who was involved in a family dispute.

Shelter staff initially refused to allow the men inside, but relented after being verbally threatened and shown a gun. Once inside the building, the men reportedly hit furniture and looked underneath a bed, to the alarm of the women and children present.  Not finding Munoz on the premises, the men left.

The incident elicited a sharp protest from women’s rights groups in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City. Signed by the Women’s Human Rights Center and the Women’s Roundtable of Ciudad Juarez, a statement demanded that Chihuahua Governor Jose Reyes Baeza and Chihuahua Supreme Court President Rodolfo Acosta Munoz guarantee the safety of shelter clients, staff and activists.

According to the two groups, the police intrusion left clients- who are already exposed to violence in their lives- in a state of fear. Under the center’s rules, men and guns are not allowed on the property. The activists also demanded the immediate relocation of the shelter to a new site, and the firing of justice system officials responsible for violating the victims’ sanctuary.

Writing about the raids, Cacho contended that the presence of armed men in places where women and children fleeing violence are supposed to be safe and secure was linked to an overall situation of lawlessness and impunity.

“In the three cases the state and municipal police knew there was no authority, and that they could utilize the force of the state for personal vengeance and warn the victims they are not safe anywhere,” Cacho wrote.


Sources: Cimacnoticias, June 14, 2010. Gladis Torres Ruiz. El Universal,
June 14, 2010. Article by Lydia Cacho.


Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, New Mexico


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1 comments:

Kristin Bricker said...

ARMED MEN VIOLATE THE SECRECY OF THE ONLY SAFE REFUGE FOR WOMEN IN SITUATIONS OF EXTREME VIOLENCE IN CIUDAD JUAREZ, CHIHUAHUA

The following Human rights groups: Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, Mesa de Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez y SIN VIOLENCIA A.C;

DENOUNCE the following:

On 9 June, 14 heavily armed men broke into a secret safe house in Ciudad Juárez, the only one of its kind in the state of Chihuahua for women under situations of extreme violence. The refuge, Sin Violencia, A.C., was founded by the late Esther Chávez Cano. The leader of the squad was a public servant from the judiciary branch, named Román García, who refused to identify himself and only presented the women with a legal document signed by First Judge in Family Matters for the Bravos Judicial District, Guadalupe Manuel de Santiago Aguayo, who authorized the use of public force to break and enter the premises, as part of a procedure concerning family matters, "consistent with the immediate turnover of the minor Lesly Itzel Muñoz González."

The legal order did not state an address to carry out said judicial procedure, nor was it directed at Sin Violencia, a legally-registered Civil Association. Given the anomaly of the circumstances, the staff
opposed the violent entry of the armed men into the refuge, and demanded that the judiciary officer present them with a search warrant, which he did not have.

The all-female staff explained that this was the only high-security REFUGE of its kind in Chihuahua and that some of the victims were wives or romantic partners of police officers, sicarios, or criminals
linked to organized crime, so that for obvious security reasons they could not grant the men access to the premises. They explained that protocol banned entry to all men (not to mentioned armed men).

The women of Sin Violencia were threatened with 2-3 years of prison, and one of the armed men said, textually, "I urge you to cooperate, or I will be forced to act," at which point he gestured with his weapon.
They then asked the executive coordinator to hand over her identification. One of the officers took her ID and said that he now had more information about the person refusing them entry, and said, "You're going to regret this, you'll be in trouble, it's better if you cooperate or we will break the locks and knock the doors down." Faced with the perceived threat of losing their lives in the hands of armed men who seemed willing to do anything; fearing the loss of their liberty and the further trauma that could be caused to the victims of violence who were inside, under their responsibility, and; threatened as they were by a group of armed men in a city of total impunity that is Ciudad Juárez currently, they felt forced to allow the armed men
entry.

Once inside, the men acted violently, overturning furniture and looking under the beds of the victims, who went into a state of collective psychosis with their young children -- having considered the refuge to be a safe haven up until that moment.

The men did not find the minor in question, as the staff of Sin Violencia had forewarned the judicial officer in charge.

WE DEMAND:

The immediate dismissal from office of the judicial public servant and the police officers who participated in this action, as well as the required security to allow for the continuity of our human rights work.

Send your letters to:
Lic. Rodolfo Acosta Muñoz
Magistrado Presidente del Supremo Tribunal de Justicia
Del Estado de Chihuahua
Tel ( 52 614 ) 1 800 700

Lic. José Reyes Baeza
Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chihuahua
Palacio de Gobierno
Calle Aldama # 901 Col Centro C.P. 31000
Tel ( 52 614) 4 29 33 00 ext 11123

Send a copy to: Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres correo
electrónico: acción@cedehm.org.mx

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